The Forging of Codex Sinaiticus by William Cooper

Steven Avery


A gentleman involved in the creationary movement and apologetics, Bill Cooper, has published an ebook about a week ago.

The Forging of Codex Sinaiticus (2016)

Bill Cooper

Cooper is a good writer, and there are many points in the book that can be discussed and he does do a good amount of original analysis.

There are a number points that do add to our research, there are a couple of sections that we have not discussed, and there are some places where I would suggest a caution as to his analysis. (He gives a credit to this forum on the very last page.)

We will use this thread as the centerpiece of review. The plan is to begin a bit this weekend.

One major purpose of this review is to make sure that any errors or dubious assertions made by Bill Cooper have a reasonably clear correction and counterpoint, and do not cause difficulties for the discussions of Sinaiticus authenticity.

The book is for sale as a kindle ebook for $9.95. Please do not consider this a recommendation or a disrecommendation. :)

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Steven Avery

Gregory XVI - P75 - new studies

The first point is that Bill Cooper does have interesting sections that do not have a parallel in our purebibleforum and SART studies. (Whether they have parallels in the material from Chris Pinto, I am unsure.)

Four that immediately come to mind are sections on:

1) Gregory XVI, the pope from 1831 to 1846, who Tischendorf met in his 1843 visit.

Another is a study on the

2) authenticity of Papyrus Bodmer 75.

This post will be kept for some comments on those sections, and other areas that are new in the same type of way.

A third, in the first chapter, is a study on the questioning of the:

3) financing and backing of Tischendorf.

4) fuller representation of the Spyridon Lampros catalog (ch. 3)


These all have the capability of becoming purebibleforum threads, and all are interesting.

From the first chapter on the financing, here is one paragraph that helps give the general theme from Bill Cooper:

The libraries that he visited were not public libraries which anyone in the street could simply walk into. For most of them he would need, in several languages, letters of introduction, commendation and tickets. Who supplied them? Who gained him admission to the numerous monasteries which he claims to have visited and worked in? You certainly can't just knock on the door, announce yourself as a Protestant scholar, enter such places and demand to examine their libraries, especially without making them a commensurate 'gift' of some sort and presenting excellent credentials. And you can't just walk away with their manuscripts either.

The short answer to it all, as we shall presently see, is that the Vatican, through the Jesuits, funded his journeys in order to funnel him towards the 'discovery' which they intended him to make after his papal audience. It is they who supplied him with money, travel arrangements, accommodations, letters, and anything else that he might need for the 'quest' to be successful, as well as the necessarily fat purse with which to make his purchases of so many ancient manuscripts. Tischendorf is painfully reticent about discussing any of these details, hoping no doubt that his readers would be more taken with his exciting 'discoveries' than to ever wonder about such things as finance, accommodation and commendation.

In this chapter, Bill Cooper is using material largely from the Sinaiticus part of When Were Our Gospels Written? 1867, the section on the Sinaiticus "discovery". It is an interesting section that is complementary to the PBF material. The reader has to decide to what extent the thesis is demonstrated.


Chapter 2

Chapter Two: Pope Gregory XVI, the Jesuits, and Codex Vaticanus
'I here pass over in silence the interesting details of my... audience with the Pope, Gregory XVI., in May, 1843...." Constantine Tischendorf.

Is a natural continuation from chapter 1. (I said he is a good writer :) ). While Chris Pinto has emphasized this, you will not find much on the purebibleforum. I found it all helpful.

There is an important point made from Westcott and Hort about Vaticanus that definitely needs a closer look. This has to do with linguistic Latin influences in names and a comment that Westcott and Hort made about the origin of Vaticanus, and even Sinaiticus, being in Rome. Closely related would be the Latinization discussions of Erasmus relating to Vaticanus and the James Donaldson analysis of Sinaiticus. The possible Old Latin and Vulgate influences are a factor, and also the chapter sections in Acts.
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Steven Avery

Introduction - general theme

Right now I will not say too much on the Introduction and general direction of the book. My purpose in this review is more generally on "the facts on the ground".

As it becomes relevant to the ongoing review, I will place more general comments here.
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Steven Avery

the Latin Vulgate

Chapter 2 has a section on the idea of a new Greek text being accepted by Rome (what I call the rcc Plan B contra the pure Received Text, after the failure of the Vulgate to hold that place in the Reformation era Battle of the Bible.)

While the general ideas are reasonable, I see a major historical factual problem in this section:

That problem was Jerome's Latin Vulgate Bible. Consider. The Vatican had held for many centuries that the only authoritative text of the Scriptures was encapsulated within Jerome's Latin Bible, and that none other was ever to be held as its superior, no, not even its Hebrew and Greek originals. And no, this was not just an academic opinion, but was encoded into canon law. Since AD 383 when Pope Damasus ordered its publication, no Bible version or translation other than Jerome's Vulgate was allowed to be consulted or referred to or even read on pain of death! This ban on all other translations of the Bible was reinforced by the Council of Trent in 1546, and again enforced by Clement VIII in 1592. So the problem was not only how to sell Codex Vaticanus to the world, but how to explain the fact that, with all its corruptions which outnumbered even those of the Vulgate, Codex Vaticanus was somehow authoritative. To be authoritative, it had to be at least on an equal footing with the Vulgate, even though it omitted much of what the Vulgate included, and contained readings which were not to be found in the Vulgate. But the dilemma was very simply avoided.

There is a common tendency in the TR and AV positions in the last couple of decades to misunderstand the Vulgate's place in Bible history. As an example, there is an oversimplified "two lines" theory that tries to make a huge authority distinction between the Old Latin and the Vulgate. In fact, they are closely connected, and in some ways the Vulgate improved the Old Latin.

In this case above, we have a claim that the rcc could only read the Bible in Latin from the time of Jerome's edition c. 400 AD. (And that Trent was simply reinforcing those decrees.)

This is simply false. The Latin perspective of the rcc up to the Council of Trent was more one of preference rather than insistence. And although the Greek manuscripts was thought to have suffered some corruption, (thus there was a whole time of Latinization issues from the time of the Lateran Council c. 1200 until Florence in 1439 until the Reformation) they were respected as scholarly sources. The circling of the Latin horses occurred with the counter-Reformation decrees of the Council of Trent, along with the placement of the TR editions of Erasmus on the Index librorum prohibitorum (forbidden books). Thus the key time of the rcc declaring Latin supremacy was c. 1545 leading up to the conflicting Vulgate versions (Sistene and Clementine) of the later 1500s. This was not simply a continuation of decrees from 400 AD or 1000 AD.

Note: as to the "no other versions" and "pain of death" perspective even after 1545, I would have to see the specific decrees and how they were enforced.

And this fact that Greek mss could be read and utilized should be obvious even by simply looking closely at the early 1500s, where the Greek mss were given a substantial role in what were essentially TR editions from the Complutensian Polyglot and by Erasmus. With rcc support for this type of endeavor, until the Spanish scholarly group was disbanded and especially when Trent went counter-Reformation.
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Steven Avery

Constantine Simonides

Ch. 3 takes us to more familiar purebibleforum territory, Constantine Simonides.

Bill Cooper twice says that Simonides referred to the ms. as Codex Simonides, actually it is Codex Simoneidos.

Charles Stewart is called a journalist, my studies indicate he was a scientist. The problem is that Cooper emphasizes his journalistic skills.


In a later letter to The Guardian, published on 21st January 1863, he points out that Tischendorf accuses him of forging an impossibly high number of documents:

"Truly I wonder how people can credit such unreasonable falsehoods, things wholly impossible, and believe the reports of Tischendorf - viz., that I prepared palimpsests, and wrote 10,000 pages of an Egyptian Lexicon, 7,000 pages of the Alexandrine Philological Catalogue, 10,000 pages of Uranius! 8,800,000 pages of various other ancient writers on different subjects! That I corrected the corrupted texts of various classical writers, filled up many blanks of injured ancient MSS, and wrote and prepared papyri! And all this in a very limited space of time, for which work a life of two thousand years would not suffice me..."

Bill Cooper takes this as face, and as a solid answer to the forgery charges. However, Bill does not try to confirm that this was the Tischendorf accusation, or, more significantly, that these thousands, or millions, of pages actually exist.

We have a very thin reed used to exonerate Simonides from the forgery charges.


In the footnotes of ch. 3 is a problem similar to the one above about the pages, in the context of the Mayer papyri:

Could he have forged them? No, he couldn't. He had never owned them. We know exactly who owned them, as we know exactly who had owned them previously, and Simonides had never been within a mile of them prior to Mayer's invitation. The clearly ancient papyrus of Matthew's Gospel was invitation. The clearly ancient papyrus of Matthew's Gospel was unrolled for the first time before witnesses. But the howls and hoo-ha which followed did little service for Simonides' later claim that he was the original writer of Codex Sinaiticus. One of the great ironies of the episode is the fact that the documents he was accused of forging were actually genuine, whereas the one document that he did write out himself was declared not to be his. It was a time of great madness.

This does not match my studies about the Mayer papyri, which involve statements by, at least, Mayer, Simonides and Harry Stobart. Apparently there was time when Simonides had papyri privately that was considered as from the Mayer stash.

Now, this does not mean there might not be a good study here, but I would strongly urge those writing on Simonides and Sinaiticus to be very cautious in trying to paint all the forgery charges against Simonides as false. Including the Mayer papyri.

There is a lot of good writing in chapter 3, although there is not that much value-added in the chapter for those familiar with our studies.

Wait: he does begin studies on specific anomalies, such as worm-holes and this is a strength of the book. I likely will put that on its own post.

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Steven Avery

Shepherd of Hermas and Barnabas

Chapter Four: Sinaiticus' Date Betrayed by The Shepherd of Hermas

A major source here is the research that was placed on the Bible Criticism and History Forum in 2014, and a person studying the issues would do well to go over the BCHF and Bill Cooper's book, where the chapter works as a kind of summary.

Sinaiticus - Hermas, Barnabas linguistic, history anomalies

Bill Cooper suggests that the "anonymous reviewer" in the 1875 Saturday Review article is William Aldis Wright. And I don't think I had addressed this point of authorship anywhere, and now looking at the use of "moral certainty" and the turgid, obtuse, writing style, I would say it has the feel of one Fenton Hort. The Saturday Review was one of the publications that was duped by Westcott and Hort, it is mentioned a couple of times in the letters of Hort, and it gave a glowing endorsement of their GNT when it came out some years later.

Bill Cooper properly emphasizes the Tischendorf flip-retraction and gives a focus on some of his humorous and tricky language, one example is this footnote from chapter 4.

7. It was in the Preface, Prologue and Appendix of Dressel's second edition of Patrum Apostolicorum Opera, published in 1867, that Tischendorf did his back-pedalling. But note the gem of double-reasoning which Tischendorf offers having given two directly opposite analyses of Hermas: "My opposite opinion is proved correct...." That is how to wriggle off a hook. Beautiful.

The quote is beautiful!

And this was given in the James Donaldson page here:

A Critical History of Christian Literature and Doctrine: From the Death of the Apostles to the Nicene Council, Volume 1 (1864)

Note that this page also helps peg the retraction back-pedaling, which had been years earlier, much closer to the 1859 heist, and not 1867.

See also:

Hermas and Barnabas resources and timeline

At one point in chapter 5 there is an awkward return to the Simonides quote that I discuss above that refers to: "8,800,000 pages of various other ancient writers..."

All in all, the chapter is a solid read.

And the same can be said for:

Chapter Five: Barnabas Also Betrays Sinaiticus' Date of Composition
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Steven Avery

the Mark ending

Chapter Six: The Removal of Mark 16:9-20 from both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.

We start off with some fine references about how Tischendorf thought that the scribal sharing of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus included the Mark ending of both. After looking at Tischendorf, James Rendel Harris and Hort, Cooper writes:

This is a matter of truly immense importance, so let's think carefully about what it is that we are looking at here. For the past hundred and fifty years or so, the public have been told that between them, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are ancient and independent witnesses to the fact that the verses of Mark 16:9-20 are a late addition to the Gospel of Mark. These verses did not, it is alleged, belong to the original text of the New Testament, and the fact that they are missing from both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus proves that to be true. Both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, it is said, are independent witnesses to that fact. But not a word is said about the fact that the pages of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus which contain the omission of these verses, were written out by the same hand - that the same individual is responsible for the omission in both cases.

One concern here is that this is not necessarily the scribal conclusion today. I'll plan on delving into this more, let's continue.

Without a doubt, this forged insertion into the text of both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus was instigated by Cardinal Mai. He it was who was responsible for seeing the Vaticanus facsimile through the press in 1857. What we do not know at this stage is who did the actual forgery. It was not, I suspect, Tieschendorf, because he voiced some surprise at the fact that the bifolia were in the same hand, whereas had he been the forger he would never have drawn attention to that fact. Perhaps we shall never know (not on this side of Eternity), but we do know by this evidence that the world has been mightily deceived by this insertion.

Actually there is doubt on various elements of this claim. I do believe every element raised here should be examined, but we are dealing with far less than proof of these assertions.

But one notorious fact in all this is that in both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, space was provided by the forger that would have been sufficient for the accommodation of the twelve missing verses (Mark 16:9-20) had he included them. And the space for accommodation had to be precise and not approximate.

Here we have some factual problems. The Sinaiticus space is not sufficient, and the Vaticanus space is not precisely sufficient, it would take some scrunching to get it in.

Although the page in Sinaiticus is strangely (deliberately?) faded, it is very plain indeed that the same hand wrote out both pages. Tischendorf noticed it, wrote about it, and we can see it here with our own eyes.
It is passing strange, therefore, that no modern critic has deigned to explain this startling fact.

Possibly, more on this later.

However, at the times when a shared scribe is considered, among the modern textual criticism writers, it is considered an evidence of the same scriptorium, e.g. in Caesarea. If there is a shared scribe, we have a bifurcation of theories. First, though note the "if". Then, it might be more logical that the shared scribe was in the 1800s, but either theory, ancient or modern, has a lot of component parts to consider.

Other than the correction on the precise space, at this time I will be relatively interested and neutral on the theories. When I do some revisiting, I plan to write more.

Bill Cooper then goes into 2427, Archaic Mark. Which is definitely an interesting topic.

... MS 2427. Its main attraction for Aland and the critics was the fact that it is a verbatim copy of the Vaticanus text of the Gospel of Mark. But with one exception. That exception is the fact that MS 2427 includes the ending to Mark's Gospel, Mark 16:9-20, whereas Vaticanus presently omits it. Now how did that come about? The answer is simplicity itself.

The theory here is fascinating. However, before anything else, is 2427 a "verbatim copy of the Vaticanus text of the Gospel of Mark"? How does that fit into the connection with the Philipp Buttmann edition of 1860, today considered the main exemplar for 2427? Which is not exactly Vaticanus. And that edition is not mentioned by Cooper.

Philipp Buttmann produced a New Testament edition based largely on B, but he had B's text via Mai, which he seemingly didn't trust very much, so the resulting edition isn't much like B or anything else (except 2427, which apparently was copied from it).

If Buttmann's edition includes the Mark ending in the text (offhand, I believe so), it provides a simpler alternative to the theory of Cooper.

The draft for MS 2427 was clearly copied verbatim out of Vaticanus before the verses Mark 16:9-20 were removed from Vaticanus by Cardinal Mai in 1857 - which proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that before 1857, Vaticanus originally included those twelve verses.

It is a bit unfortunate that theories like this are written as "clearly" and "beyond any shadow of a doubt".


In the footnotes, there is an error regarding textual ideas and Alexandrinus.

The surprising thing here, in light of what the critics have always told us, is that these verses in Alexandrinus are precisely what the Textus Receptus has always included as the ending of Mark's Gospel; whereas if what the critics have always said were in any way true, these verses would not yet have existed and should therefore not have appeared in Alexandrinus. We feel their pain.

Since there are massive evidences for the Mark ending before Alexandrinus, the critics do not claim that the "these verses would not yet have existed". Even back to Hort the contra authenticity idea was that it was almost immediately after the apostolic era, maybe late first or early second century (which in effect is conceding authenticity.) Thus, this claim from Bill Cooper is very much a straw man argument. Alexandrinus is important, but let's keep the facts straights.

An interesting chapter, one that I want to revisit.

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Steven Avery

Chapter 7: A Brief Survey of Sinaiticus' Contents

Chapter 7: A Brief Survey of Sinaiticus' Contents

This is a short chapter, that discusses the division of the ms into four locations and the advantages of the Hendrickson facsimile edition ("pin-sharp clarity of detail" ) and the advantages of the Codex Sinaiticus Project online in viewing the ms. This is the second discussion of the Facsimile edition, the first one was early in the book, only in the next third discussion does Cooper point out that they tampered with the colour of the pages.

The second is that belonging to Leipzig University Library (LUL), this occupying quires 35-37; & 47-49. These are the first pages of Simonides' manuscript that Tischendorf had under his complete control, and they show clearly that he (with or without an accomplice) tampered with them in an attempt to make them seem much older than they truly were.

We will see how Cooper supports this later, but it definitely can not include the colouring tampering, since the Leipzig 43 leaves are the white parchment leaves.
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Steven Avery

Chapter 8: The Sinai Fragments of 1975

Chapter 8: The Sinai Fragments of 1975

The find was reported in The Independent newspaper - and in one or two other newspapers as well - yet I have been able to track down just one rather inadequate academic essay on the discovery, the author of which (Altbauer) was interested solely in the Slavic manuscripts amongst the find, ignoring the Sinaiticus leaves entirely. The Sinaiticus leaves and fragments are not even mentioned.

Cooper is right to mention the Moshe Altabuer (1904-1998) paper on the New Finds, which I was discussing in CARM in 2013, as in this post:

However I would add a few other academic essays.

Politis,Linos, Nouveaux manuscrits grecs d?couverts au Mont Sina?., [Rapport pr?liminaire] 1980

Charlesworth, James H, The Manuscripts of St. Catherine's Monastery, The Biblical Archaeologist 43(1):26 ? November 1981 (an earlier 1979 Charlesworth article in the Biblical Archaeologist is referenced by Cooper in the footnotes, and is discussed below)

Charlesworth, James H, The new discoveries in St. Catherine's Monastery: A preliminary report on the manuscripts, 1981 monograph

Altbauer, Mosh?, Identification of newly discovered slavic manuscripts in St.Catherine's monastery in Sinai, 1987

Nikolopoulos, Panagiotis G., Ta nea heuremata tou Sina, Athens 1998.

Hypourgeio - The New Finds of Sinai - Saint Catherine (Monastery : Mount Sinai), Greece. 1999

Radle, Gabriel, Sinai Greek NE/ ΜΓ 22: Late 9th/ Early 10th Century Euchology Testimony of the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom and the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts in the Byzantine Tradition, 2011

Batovici, Dan, ’Textual Revisions of the Shepherd of Hermas in Codex Sinaiticus’ ZAC18 (2014), 443-470.

Plus there is a variety of material from Nicholas Pickwoad, some relating to the discovery by Nikolas Sarris.

Plus there is more here on PBF:

Resources - New Finds

Including the article by T. C. Skeat, the youtube by Justin Sinaites, the discussion in the 2005 article by Michael D. Peterson, the 2008 article by Philothea, the 2010 article by Georgi Parpulov (a superb resource with many historical and bibliographic references) and the 2015 report by
Nikolopoulos G. Panayotis, as well as more material from St. Catherine's.

A Further Catalog of the 'New Finds' of Manuscripts (2009)
Sebastian Brock

Catalogues of the ‘New Finds’ of the manuscripts discovered in 1975 have been steadily progressing over the years: the first to appear was that of the Christian Arabic (1985), followed by the Slavonic (1988), the Syriac fragments (1995), the Greek (1999), the Georgian (2005),and now (2008) the main collection of the Syriac ‘NewFinds’. ... - Sebastian Brock

Returning to our chapter:

The Independent
reports that one of the Sinaiticus fragments was recognised by a British academic named Nikolas Sarris from a photograph, and one would think that in the forty years which have passed since that day, at least one scholarly report on the find would have been made. But there's nothing.

Correction here, the Nikolas Sarris material dates from 2009, not 1975. Here is an article on the Sarris discovery.

A new Fragment of the Codex Sinaticus Discovered at Saint Catherines's

Now, the issue that Bill Cooper raises about the jittery response of the monastery when the find was found is interesting and dovetails well with what I have read.

Here is the footnote.

5. For a most telling account of how nervously the 1975 'discovery' at Sinai was announced, and how jittery its monastic leaders were about anyone - scholar or even government official - seeing the leaves up close, see: Charlesworth, James H. 'St. Catherine's Monastery: Myths & Mysteries.' The Biblical Archaeologist. Vol. 42. No. 3 (Summer 1979)- pp. 174-179.

This would be nice to find and quote.


Once we get past this problem of not properly representing the literature on the topic, this chapter is quite interesting, and is discussing a few of the leaves, Tischendorf shenanigans and more.

Here is an excerpt:

The fact that Q11-f.2 was not found in its place amongst the collection of leaves that were not 'discovered' until 1975, but was found amongst those quires and folios which were taken by Tischendorf to Russia in 1859, shows that Tischendorf had to have taken it with him for the express purpose of cutting out large portions of it. The only possible reason he would have had for this remarkable action was to remove evidence which contradicted all that he was claiming for the manuscript - evidence of its recent authorship in other words. Simonides repeatedly claimed that he had left such marks of authorship. Furthermore, we may now conclude that the recently 'discovered' leaves at St Catherine's monastery were not unknown to Tischendorf who, for reasons now unknown but not unsuspected, left those behind whilst taking Qn-f.2 with him. And if they were known to Tischendorf, then they were known to others ....

And I definitely agree that the New Finds interfaces with the manuscript in a way that points directly to Tischendorf involvement with the material. The purpose of this review is not to parse every detail, I will simply say that this part of the chapter is an interesting read.
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Steven Avery

Chapter 9: The Leipzig Leaves 10. The British Library Leaves

Chapter 9: The Leipzig Leaves
Chapter 10: The British Library Leaves

These chapters are in one sense the heart of the matter.


Chapter 9: The Leipzig Leaves

We sail now into somewhat calmer waters to consider the Leipzig Leaves. These 43 leaves were the first leaves of Codex Sinaiticus to come into Tischendorf s hands in 1844. He took them to his alma mater, Leipzig University, where he had them bound, and named the resulting book Codex Friderico-Augustanus in honour of King Frederick-Augustus II of Saxony.
For this binding I would like to see the documentation. My understanding is that the Leipzig leaves are loose today. My conjecture, Bill saw a picture of the CFA 1846 book and thought of it as the manuscript.

It is doubtful that his Vatican puppet-masters were all that pleased with his removal of the 43 leaves from Sinai, and especially with his premature announcement of them to the world. He had, as it were, jumped the gun.
Bill Cooper is assuming the circumstantial case that Tischendorf at this point was working in Sinai for "Vatican puppet-masters". Fair enough, that is his thesis. However, even if that is the case, the Codex Friderico-Augustanus could easily be seen as a test to see what the Bible textual world would accept. Could he really pawn off recent parchment as the oldest extant ms (as he claimed as early as 1847.).

1853... come away empty-handed (largely because he hadn't returned as promised the 43 leaves that he had "borrowed' earlier

There are two possibilities for 1844. The one that is almost surely true is that Tischendorf simply stole the 43 leaves, as can be seen even in the wording of his family correspondence. Later, in the 1860-1865 period, he made a bogus claim that he had permission to take the leaves. There is no historical account anywhere that the 1843 leaves involved a loan.

In 1859, he had to be sent back again, this time as an emissary no less of Tsar Alexander II of Russia who somehow had become privy to the knowledge that work on the Codex was now complete - or as complete as it ever would be.

Afaik, there is no historical documentation to show that 1859 trip was based on special knowledge of the Tsar.

Now we get into a far stronger section.

As it happens, Tischendorf s jumping the gun back in 1844 was fortuitous for the critics inasmuch as it geographically isolated the two most important segments of the Codex. People might have wondered - as one or two did come to wonder - how it was that the Leipzig segment was (then) in such pristine condition where the Russian segment retrieved some fifteen years later showed such obvious signs of tampering, fading and ageing.

This fortuitous part is very true, and can hardly be over emphasized. Later, it is emphasized, by Bill Cooper (using references that are on the PBF):

The fact that the Leipzig leaves and the writing upon them were in such pristine condition at the time of their 'discovery should never be underappreciated. ... (description)

And I will note that the evidences is that Tischendorf was aware of this problem, which is why he actually was very coy about the connection of the two manuscripts in public statements in the years following 1859. And made sure to keep the two manuscripts physically separated.

1844.. prematurely purloining the 43 leaves, Tischendorf had taken them away from the men who were currently trying to age the manuscript that Simonides had written out.

Looking at the evidences from Uspensky (who saw the ms in 1845 and 1850) and Simonides and Kallinikos, it actually seems like the aging attempt was in the 1850s, not 1844.

43 leaves that had gone to Leipzig .... Only later did such tampering become evident, though on nothing like the scale of that inflicted on the Russian leaves.

I am skeptical that you can find tampering by Tischendorf on Leipzig that was designed to make those leaves appear old. The most basic tampering is the colouring, and that could not be done on Leipzig once they were deposited in 1846 in the Leipzig University Library.

Fortuitously for the Vatican, this separation ensured that no one would be able for a very long time to compare the two segments up close. Indeed, this opportunity has only recently presented itself since 2011 with the publication of the Hendrickson facsimile. By that year, of course, Codex Sinaiticus had already wreaked its havoc, and the intended damage to Bible scholarship - as well as the Bible's reputation and Authority! - was now done, so any objections to its many signs of forgery would come far too late anyway. The Vatican could now afford to be lax and allow the codex to be published for all to see. Besides, by 2011 there had built up a formidable library of 'authorities' to damp down any fire that an enquirer might accidentally raise.

This makes the assumption that the Vatican was pulling the decision behind the scenes on decisions like the Codex Sinaiticus Project and Hendrickson facsimle. (In terms of the colour of the parchment leaves, the CSP is far more significant than Hendrickson facsimile, which was smoothed, with the Preface talking of "sensitive adjustments".) No real evidence is given of the Vatican having any say in these decisions.

And the note about the 'authorities' has some truth, in the sense of the textual criticism stonewall. However, it implies that the British Museum and others involved were aware that the project could open up the authenticity issues. And I believe, for the most part, that they had been so duped by Sinaiticius propaganda that they were managed a type of collective delusion -- thinking this is an old ms. This is my conclusion especially based on correspondence with various people invovled with the British Library, who have been very helpful and sincere in discussions, even if unable to see the authenticity elephant in the manuscript living room. (Leipzig is far more guarded and non-informative, leading to a suspicion that they are more aware of the problem.)

How comes it, then, that the leaves and fragments which came to light in 1975, and which are supposed to have belonged to the same codex as the Leipzig leaves, are in such an appalling, ragged and filthy state, when the 43 leaves which follow on from them are so clean and new and undecayed in their appearance? The same question might be asked concerning the difference incondition between the Leipzig and the Russian leaves? Had the

This gives some misimpression, especially about the British pages. Their lack of grime and real aging was why Morozov knew the story was bogus. People today can see the problem in the BBC video. Many of the leaves are similarly flexible, supple and youthful as are Leipzig, and sans grime. They have colouring stains and a darker colour, and lots of variation in colour, as the main distinction. Superficial aging.

It would explain in part the reluctance of the monks at Sinai to let this segment of 43 leaves go. to let this segment of 43 leaves go. The leaves were yet to be worked on, and the monks were only persuaded to let Tischendorf take them away because he had falsely promised to return them.

See above. This is rewriting the history, creating an 1843 reluctant loan.

In the much later c. 1860 Tischendorf account, they were grateful for his insight in saving the mss. and quite willing to give him 1/3 of the leaves. In reality, they knew little or nothing about the theft of the 43 leaves. Uspensky likely did not know in his 1845 viewing of the ms, or even in 1850, as Tischendorf had hidden that the Codex Friderico-Augustanus had come from Sinai and Uspensky was more a St. Petersburg than a Leipzig kind of guy.

But once away from the monastery, they were no longer in the hands of the Jesuit forgers who were busy at Sinai producing a codex that could bear timely witness to Vaticanus, which even now was being prepared for publication by Cardinal Mai at Rome.

There are problems in saying that after 1844 the Jesuit forgers were producing Sinaiticus. The key one is the Uspensky 1845 description, which includes the same books as we have today. It is one thing to allege trimming and colouring and eliminating bothersome points, it is difficult to place any actual ms. production after 1845.

Here might be a good place to give one observation concerning the Hendrickson facsimile. Its one fault lies in the fact that every page of the facsimile bears a uniform colour throughout for the parchment of the original. In other words, the white colour of the original parchment belonging to the Leipzig leaves, which was observed and noted by more than one scholar who had seen them shortly after their arrival at Leipzig (Uspensky and Dobschutz for instance - M'Clymont [see Bibliography] came a little later when in 1913 they were still white as snow), is masked by giving them the same colour and tone as the rest of the book's leaves. I don't think that there is anything more sinister to this than a simple exercise in book design aesthetics. But it is misleading nonetheless.

This smoothing of the colour of the 2010 facsimile is rather blatant. (Remember, they carefully put in a vague sentence about "sensitive adjustments". It is similar to the Tischendorf trick of pointing people to his facsimile edition. We have tried to contact the editors from Hendrickson, and others, to determine to what extent this was simply aesthetics and what extent it may have been an awareness that proper colouring would raise alarm bells. If the book had the colour differentiation as in the Codex Sinaiticus Project, or the composite pic on the web siite, it would certainly be quite easily noticed and raised questions. Personally I believe that the decision was a bit more than simply aesthetics.

The British Library's website for Codex Sinaiticus also presents a standardized shade (almost monochrome) for the entire codex.

Nope. The Codex Sinaiticus Project is quite faithful and diligent on the colouring isuses, they had the Working Standards technical party, they include colour bars, a solid coding system for various parchment elements, and more. This is has been the basis for much of the SART analysis.

Next is a good section about the "white parchment". An interesting claim is made.

Tischendorf tried to explain it by stating that the leaves were of antelope skin, as if antelope skin were the only parchment which would maintain its pristine condition and colouring over some 1500 years.

It is possible that this was the basis of why Tischendorf made the dubious antelope conjecture. However, afaik, he does not connect the antelope theory with the actual condition of the manuscript. In fact, he generally avoided discussing the parchment. (He did call the Russian pages sufflava.)

Bill Cooper then has a well-written couple of pages about the white parchment, the excellent condition, the 1860s insight of Simonides about the tampering and including British Library acknowledgements of the unusually excellent condition.

He then starts a new analysis.

Is this complained-of damage to the parchment evident today? Of course it is. In fact, it is all too evident on the opening leaf of the Leipzig segment. That leaf is numbered Q35-f.1r, and the nature of its fading tells us that two methods were employed, dry-rubbing and wet-rubbing, in reducing the clarity of certain pages. The first method, as here, is that of dry rubbing, most probably with a coarse and abrasive cloth....
This section afaik is new, Bill Cooper analysis, interesting. And I will need to look at it closer, and also ask for input from our colour specialist, Mark Michie.

....Such patterning is not something that one would expect from a natural deterioration over one and a half millenia. There would be no pristine pages at all if Sinaiticus were really as old as is claimed. It is very clearly deliberate, although at this stage it is impossible to say who carried out the fading. We have it on M'Clymont's authority that the Leipzig leaves were "written on snow-white vellum" - in a pristine condition, in other words - as late as 1913, by which time Tischendorf had been dead for 39 years, so it could not have been he. The fading had to have been carried out at some time after 1913, though under whose orders, by whose hand, or to what end we cannot now say. Was a more modern facsimile anticipated? Or with the new railways joining Europe and Russia together, were scholars, who could spot new parchment when they saw it, becoming more widely travelled? Maybe.
Thus, Bill Cooper theorizes that some features were caused by changes at the Leipzig University Library, a theory about which I am very skeptical.

The next pages are about specific Leipzig oddities and anomalies, including the erasure of marginalia "particularly on Q36-f.6r", the "India ink" overwriting of Q47-f-1r and the strange attempt to obliterate an inscription at Q48-f.8v with "India ink"

we can only wonder what it was that the inscription said. The one and only suspicion that is raised is that the inscription was by Constantine Simonides, and was one of the several monograms and acrostics with which he signed his work.
All of the Bill Cooper value-added study and analysis in this section is appreciated.

Over two or three weeks, I conducted a fingertip search of the entire Hendrickson facsimile, looking for some signature of his that had been missed, but to no avail. Most of them had doubtless been written on the pages that have since been systematically mutilated and vandalised, but this great blotting out of an inscription remains. Once again, why anyone who believed they were working on a truly ancient manuscript of the Bible would even think of obliterating an inscription which it bore, was either well aware that that manuscript was not so ancient, or he wanted to obliterate the evidence that voiced its recent manufacture.There is simply no other explanation that will do.
Bill Cooper comes to an interesting conclusion, however to really study this question we would need the 1846 Latin CFA publication.

It is difficult to believe that the Leipzig leaves were presented to Frederick Augustus II of Saxony bearing such appalling defacements as are evident today. That would have been seen by him as an insult rather than an honour, so it is very likely that the defacements and fadings were carried out after the leaves became known as, and were published as, Codex Friderico-Augustanus. Which were done by Tischendorf, and which by other interested parties, it is now impossible to say. But someone perpetrated the fraud, and it has deceived the world.
The fraud finale is a smidgen out of context with the defacement issue, however in the bigger picture it is a very valid conclusion.


Chapter 10: The British Library Leaves

4-19-2016 (now all that remains on the basic review.)

Reading the first pages, it is well-written. Note his reference:

... a 30-page pamphlet titled Waffen der Finsterniss wider die Sinaibibel - Weapons of Darkness against the Sinai Bible!... The pamphlet is an unintentionally comic rant against any who would so much as dare to question the judgment - or especially the integrity - of such a scholar as he, and it is clear by this kneejerk reaction that his nerves were a little raw on the subject.
This is an accurate description, and this discussion should also reference Die Anfechtungen der Sinai-Bibel in the same year.

Though it is largely unrecorded, it is also clear by this reaction that someone, Uspensky no doubt, had challenged him, and he was thus spurred on to denounce such doubters as the devilish agents of a supernatural darkness.2 It was something of an overkill and speaks volumes for the state of Tischendorf s mind at this stage - megalomania, a guilty and tender conscience perhaps, but certainly a fear of exposure.
Actually, we have knowledge of various challenges being discussed, including Uspensky, also (from memory) Hilgenfeld, Simonides and an anonymous writer are included in these two strange books. Although Hilgenfeld may have done his later date writing after these publications, I would have to check.

In some cases we have the challenges, in some cases they need English translation and in some cases we have the info mostly though the Tischendorf response (also Noroff has a similar book, likely a bit more sane and balanced.)

But now we must come to the leaves themselves. We can say with confidence that the long and arduous process of giving the leaves an appearance of age was not done by Tischendorf himself. Between purloining - or being allowed to purloin - the leaves in 1859 and preparing his facsimile of them by 1862, he had neither the time nor the opportunity to do it. That work had been carried out by others working in the isolated secrecy of St Catherine's monastery. Tischendorf did carry out the mutilation of certain leaves of this segment, however, and we shall consider those cases as we proceed.
The conclusion may be true, Tischendorf clearly had allies in the monastery. However, it is wrong to say he did not have time up to 1862, especially if you consider the mystery months in Cairo in 1859.

Next Bill Cooper extracts well from the Arthur Lucas book Forensic Chemistry, which I briefly had noted on the BCHF forum and here:

discoloration of documents, stains, liquids used - forensic testing

In this excellent section Bill Cooper then makes a salient and excellent comment:

And here is where things get interesting, for every single one of the telltale signs of forgery that Lucas lists, is evident on the pages of Codex Sinaiticus - almost every page. Those which have not been touched by the forger's art have writing on them which is crisp and new, and almost a complete absence of any patina that would certainly have settled on and permeated them had they been of any real age. Those which have been so touched still have no naturally acquired patina, but bear all the hallmarks of fakery nonetheless.
Bill Cooper then goes into the "pleasantly candid admissions" of the British Library, another fine section with a humorous "fetch a policeman" paragraph, if such a ms. was attempted to be pawned off today.


Next, as with Leipzig above, Bill Cooper goes into specific pages of the British Library pages. Generally, these points made are always interesting and worth of study. At this time, I will simply leave this part with a thumbs-up.

The final part of the chapter are some good comments on the New Finds and the Shepherd of Hermas.
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Steven Avery

Chapter 11: The Vatican's Long History of Forgery

Chapter 11: The Vatican's Long History of Forgery

This chapter starts with Lorenzo Valla's analysis exposing The Donation of Constantine as a forgery. In one sentence it then lumps a number of writings together, including the Decretals of Isidore and the Apostolic Constitutions, as if they are similar in the forgery quotient. (They are not.)

The chapter then has an interesting section on the Bodmer Papyrus 75 (P75). This is an area I have been studying but have not written about (we are also interested in P38 because of the Shepherd of Hermas issues). I'll say the position taken that P75 is a "fake", and a "massive deception" is interesting, yet unclear. Part of my concern comes from how I have seen Bill Cooper jump to conclusions in earlier chapters. This will need more study.

Note that there is no mention that the early thin-range dating of P75 has recently been subject to severe scrutiny and questioning, especially by Brent Nongbri (ie. even if authentic.) Cooper correctly questions the dating today "discovered (being arbitrarily dated - by whom we don't know - to AD 175-225)" but is not really up on the palaeographic dating scholarship and controversies.

Then there is a discussion of the Gospel of Jesus wife, not so relevant, except for showing where the authenticity issues are fought today. Returning to Bodmer, one key book is The Story of the Bodmer Papyri: From the First Monasterys Library in Upper Egypt to Geneva and Dublin by James M. Robinson, 2011, a book that is quite interesting and has a critical review by Tommy Wasserman.

My conclusion on this chapter is that it is interesting, a good start, and warrants further study. Especially P75, which is directly in the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus mix. Unlike other some other chapters, I don't see any red flags in the sense of clearly false assertions, however I recommend caution on this time on his P75 position.


Steven Avery

Chapter 12: Conclusion

Chapter 12: Conclusion

The conclusion is a short, generally accurate section. It omits the issues like the corroboration of the physical (colour, condition) by the historical (the colouring noted by Simonides), and it does again assume the same scribe on the Mark ending.

Generally, it is a reasonable set of data involving showing that Sinaiticus is a recent production.
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Steven Avery

Five Appendices

Appendix 1: Simonides' Letter to The Guardian, 3rd September 1862
Appendix 2: Dealings Between Simonides and Henry Bradshaw
Appendix 3: Gregory XVIs Encyclical Against Bible Societies
Appendix 4: The Dungeons of Rome's Palace of the Inquisition
Appendix 5: The Jesuit Oath

The first two are available online, so for those of us familiar with the controversy do not add anything. However, for newbies, the letter to the Guardian is helpful to have handy.

The next three have to do with the issue of the Jesuit hand behind the production. In general, this is a circumstantial case (that does not mean it is weak, it simply refers to the nature of the evidences) and thus, confirmatory documents are helpful. Without doing a check on the documents, I will say that they are helpful in considering the case that the Jesuits were actually the force behind the production and maneuvering of Sinaticius into the textual sphere.


The Bibliography is generally good, I plan to enter a couple of the special notes here. A number of books on Romanism, an example is Christopher Bush Coleman on the Donation of Constantine.

The David V. Daniels videos are not referenced (two are on the colouring) nor the SART website Nor the CARM and BCHF forums that clearly were the original source for a lot of the information, as referenced on this site. It is unclear whether Bill Cooper kept up on the Facebook discussions.

On the major publications, Jongkind "Scribal Habits", and Skeat & Milne "Scribes & Correctors" are examples of surprising omissions. Some books may be in the bibliography based on 3rd party quotes, the Memoir of Simonides by Charles Stewart is an example.

The last two entries are:

Online Media -
an ongoing lively discussion and exploration of all things Sinaiticus run by Steve Avery.

Tares Among The Wheat. DVD. Chris Pinto. Produced by Adullam Films. 2hrs 50 mins.

(Chris is also mentioned once in the early part of the book.)

Steven Avery

more on specific British Library leaves

There are some observations from Bill Cooper that might not be discussed elsewhere.

This weird scrawl may have some comments in the literature. Bill's view on the inks is interesting, and could be discussed with experts and forums, like the Fountain Pen Network board.

Currently (4-23-2016) we have a few inquiries in about the obliterated "india ink" section (see above, chapter 10) .

A good study would be to take a few of the wildest situations, including the obliterated ink and the hideous scrawl and research and inquire on them as a unit. This would include:

1) the proposed reasons and meaning
2) the palaeographic script analysis element
(e.g what centuries had such hideous scrawls?)
3) the ink question

Quire 43 - 1r
Isaiah, 1:1 - 1:27 library: BL folio: 42 scribe: B, overwriting by corrector d

Q43f-lr bears a mysteriously hideous overwriting - an ugly scrawl really - over the entire page. There is no accounting for the necessity of such disfigurement other than to suppose that some clumsy agent was trying to work out the stichometry of the text that had been erased. But to what end? The text is the beginning of the Book of Isaiah (1:1-27). The letters are clearly scratched onto the parchment with a metal nib and black 'India' ink, neither of which were in use in the 3rd or 4th centuries, but which were in wide use during the 19th. In the same ink, there are further badly written Greek characters overwriting the text.

The title above column 1 is very clearly the Greek form of Isaiah. And then there is beside it, in the same scrawl but made with a finer nib than the overwriting, some now indecipherable Greek characters which have been erased. The one word that can be made out is (Greek) (?), meaning 'hammer' in modern Greek, though what that's supposed to convey is a mystery. And why wasn't it erased with the other words immediately above it? The British Library website offers no transcription - as they do in most other instances - of these erased characters. Not even (Grk) is transcribed or explained, and that is clear to read.
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Steven Avery

worm hole? - parchment maker hole ?

Quire 43 f3

recto - Isaiah, 5:20 - 6:11 library: BL folio: 44 scribe: B, overwriting by corrector d

verso - Isaiah, 6:11 - 7:25 library: BL folio: 44b scribe: B

Just two folios further on (at Q43-f-3) and we have what is supposed to have been a wormhole. But this isn't just any wormhole. It is perfectly oblong, each corner of which consists of a perfect 90 degree right angle (see Fig. 20 below). The temptation to be amused is overwhelming, but we must constrain ourselves merely to noting that no worm known to nature ever made such a hole as this. Furthermore, there is no line of ingress in the page to track the journey of this Euclidean worm, and the adjacent pages are entirely untouched, meaning that it could not have munched its way through either of those. So how did this oblong aperture get there? It is clearly manmade, and an attempt to add a little mark of authenticity to the page. What the perpetrator forgot to do was to finish it.
Cooper may be referring to the 3rd column 26th line down on the recto.

We plan to correlate this with our information from other sources, including the CSP discussion. The Gavin Moorhead colour variance quadrangle is one example with a hole and another pic is near a hole.

Steven Avery

Ending of Mark - doozy error! Originally from William Cooper

In post #7, I discuss Cooper's Mark ending theories.

We looked closer at this when David Sorenson had the same material (without clear and proper attribution.)
There is a real doozy error, the details of which you can see here:

Neither Oldest Nor Best - David H. Sorenson (2017)
Mark ending doozy

And here is where the Cooper dependence is pointed out:

Bryan Ross

"You need to reread chapter 6 of Cooper. He makes the same allegation regarding Mark 16 that Sorensen made. It appears once again that Sorensen lifted it from Cooper."

Steven Avery

Cooper, Shepherd of Hermas, Simonides and 643

Bill Cooper (maybe p. 40) has the Spyridon Lampros catalog #643 as if it were the Shepherd of Hermas written by Simonides.

Cooper book direct on Simonides Kalliikos Benedict.jpg

The entry also mentions the later Joseph Armitage Robinson book that tracked down these leaves.
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Steven Avery

In McGrane's paper on Cooper
David W. Daniels makes an even more acute error (op. cit. p.11): not only does he have Cardinal Mai, who had been dead for 12 years, meeting Tischendorf in Rome, but he imputes the teaching of such nonsense to the universities and seminaries. The error is entirely his own . p. 26

published .. in 1862. .. Tishendorf received numerous accolades. After that, the Pope, with his Jesuit Cardinal Mai, invited Tischendorf to see the grand prize of the Vatican, Codex Vaticanus, which Tischendorf transcribed and printed in 1867. - p. 11

Angelo Mai (1782-1854) ..

An anachronism, factual error.
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Steven Avery


For a concise trashing of Bill Cooper's “The Forging of Codex Sinaiticus” see, this piece by Trevor R Allin 2022

Bill W. R. Cooper (1947-2021) is an easy target, he was in over his head, and I have written in some depth on his errors.

That said:


p. 7
Vaticanus and Sinaiticus: “both written in the West”, in the 19th Century
Elsewhere (p. 25) Cooper states that “we are inclined to surmise that B [Vaticanus] and A [Sinaiticus] were both written in the West, probably at Rome.” (p. 25, words in square brackets in Cooper’s text). This contradicts his claim elsewhere that Sinaiticus was written in a Greek monastery by Constantine Simonides as part of the Jesuit plot.

Bill Cooper was quoting Westcott and Hort, the contradiction is fabricated by Allin.


p. 8
Simonides was a convicted forger of ancient documents who had spent time in prison in Germany for fraud after selling fake documents there.

There was an arrest and a quick release, no conviction.


p. 9
He recognises that in the Hendrickson print of Sinaiticus13 the pages are all of the same colour (p. 79), as are the pages on the British Library website14.
13 “Codex Sinaiticus A facsimile”, Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers Inc. and London: The British Library 2011
14 Accessed on 25.2.21

The colours are very different, and it does look like Hendrickson did conscious tampering to smooth out the CSP section (Leipzig and London) differences, rather than a "simple exercise in book design aethetics" (Cooper).

Cooper blundered badly in writing:

The British Librarie's website for Codex Sinaiticus also presents a standardized shade (almost monchrome) for the entire codex.


P. 13
Cooper claims that there are major “differences” between the Codex Sinaiticus and the text produced by Erasmus, but most of the differences consist of spelling variations that do not prevent the reader from recognising the word, and minor differences of word order that are generally untranslatable into English.

Here Trevor R. Allin spouts nonsense, and shows he is a Bible text ignoramus, since there are many thousands of substantive differences, hundreds of which are major.